Guest Post by: Boaz Amidor, WalkMe
It’s amazing how little human nature changes throughout history despite how technology affects the way we interact. When it comes right down to it – first impressions are still everything. Your first interaction with a customer has changed over the years from shaking the hand of a potential client to having a potential client sign up for a free software trial. The consequence of this is that when a potential client downloads your free trial, you have a significantly shorter period of time to make a good first impression because your potential client’s capacity and willingness to maintain their attention is greatly limited. Customers today expect immediate results – if the value is not evident immediately and if the product does not make sense immediately, then you’ve lost your customer. No amount of follow-up emails are going to get them back on board.
Now, assuming you make a good first impression and that your client has signed up, is your onboarding program good enough to cement that good impression? Neil Patel of KissMetrics says that there is a real problem with many free-to-paid SaaS marketing tactics -- free-to-paid SaaS marketing tactics are aggressive only until people sign up and then..that’s it. Not nearly enough energy is spent on what happens after clients sign up. After clients sign up, they need to be funneled through an aggressive onboarding program. Customer onboarding should remove as many barriers as possible. The user should feel like they are being guided by the hand, step-by-step, through your software platform.
The process shouldn’t overwhelm or confuse them and make them question the value of the product. However, in reality, many onboarding processes come from a “functional” or “technical” mindset. They focus on getting customers running through the basic motions rather than painting a bigger picture and concentrating on value delivery. Your customer’s bag has been packed, they’ve been fitted with a nice pair of boots, you’ve given them a bottle of water and a brown-bag lunch, and then you dropped them in the middle of a desert and said, “Good luck – that should be everything you need. We’ll check back in thirty days. When can we expect that check?” The customer is essentially left to fend for themselves, to learn the software by themselves. In an “immediate results society,” this is simply not something most prospects want to deal with.
So, how do you demonstrate instant value and ensure customers are not overwhelmed or confused at any milestone throughout the onboarding process (minimizing abandonment due to frustration)? The answer is constant engagement. It doesn’t end at getting your users setup and sending email check-ins. You must communicate with your customers every step of the way from in-app messages to emails to phone calls and tailor it to their stage in the learning process (or lack thereof).
The burden of education shouldn’t fall solely on the trial user -- you have to change this by taking them by the hand every step of the way, checking in with them, and engaging throughout the entire process to eliminate the guess work. This is where an online guidance tool comes in. Online guidance tools allow you to accelerate customer onboarding through structured step-by-step instruction, from start to finish. You want to ensure that your customer resources are always visible and easy to access – support number, support email address, live chat, and so on. In other words – your trial user should want for nothing. They shouldn’t have to go searching blindly within your software for the functionality they want, nor should they have to go through the frustration of wading through tutorial videos and content – running from window to window – in order to understand even the most basic functionality of your software.
Instead, they should be able to jump head-first into any aspect of your software from the most basic to the most advanced and easily experience the type of functionality they want with no guess work, searching or complicated learning curve. This type of immediate and constant engagement, coupled with hand-holding, ensures clear and rapid onboarding. At this point, you’ve led your customer so far in, that the customer’s only logical way forward is to purchase the software.